Friday, December 4, 2009

The Day Destroys the Night, Night Divides the Day

It snowed yesterday, the first time here in Chicago this year. I was in a kitchen with another chef, and when we realized it, we ran to the window, hands on the sill, looking out at the fat, soft flakes, few as they were, floating down from the dark gray sky. The Christmas Carols started making sense. I became okay with the lights and ribbons and wreaths all over town.

And this morning, when I stepped out to head to Paulina Market to get my coveted leg of lamb for tomorrow's Lamb Dinner, I realized that Winter was, indeed, here. And standing on the El platform waiting for the train, I counted the months ahead before the shivering would stop. It'll be awhile. But you know, as much as contrast makes us appreciate and love things (the summer here is that much sweeter after our rough winters in a way no warmer city could ever appreciate), here's to being in the moment and enjoying where we're at. And that's not the easiest thing for me to say, being someone who romanticizes things in the past, or the future, or anywhere but right here and right now. And maybe life doesn't exist anywhere except for in our memories, but I'm all for making some really great memories.

To that end, what better than to stop in at Dinkel's Bakery, something Chicago has loved for the past nine decades, and get one of their crisp yet somehow soft Sour Cream Doughnuts in all of their deep fried splendor along with an ooey-gooey Cinnamon Bun while on my way back from Paulina Market, carrying the leg of lamb, raised in Colorado just like me, trimmed by the butcher Joe's expert hands and sharp knife, tools that have been responsible for the guidance of countless cuts of meat from a source of careful raising to a fulfilling and meaningfully warm meal?

And then to turn the corner on my street, and find the tamale man waiting, in one of his sporadic appearances, with a box full of tamales? I'm a lucky guy to return home with all of this loot, and to be able to look forward to tomorrow night's feast with friends, the smell of this roasted leg of lamb in the air and a table full of shared food and wine. And while the warmer, more colorful months have their share of great things, there's no way this happens in summer. At least, it wouldn't feel as good.

Welcome, Winter.